The 69th Infantry Regiment has many traditions and a glorious history. Tradition is a vital component of the Regiment's history. Some of its more famous traditions are: the Regimental Cocktail, Makin Day Dinner, St. Patrick's Day Parade, Garry Owen March, the name "Fighting Sixty Ninth", visits to the past members graves at Calvary Cemetery, and the Logan Duffy Match.
Regimental Cocktail - The Regimental Cocktail is prepared for toasting at all regimental affairs. The cocktail is made with one part Irish whiskey to three parts Champaign. Tradition dictates the cocktail was first consumed by General Thomas Francis Meagher (Commander of the Irish Brigade of which the 69th was a part) when Meagher could not obtain Vichy water in Fredericksburg, Virginia during the Civil War. General Meagher liked to drink whiskey mixed with Vichy water, a natural mineral water containing sodium bicarbonate and other alkaline salts. (Its name is derived from natural springs in Vichy, France. Vichy water also described other mineral waters with similar in composition). General Meagher sent a soldier to get Vichy water to mix with his whiskey but the soldier could not find any so he brought back Champaign instead. General Meagher mixed the two and the Regimental Cocktail was born.
Makin Day Dinner each November celebrates the invasion of Makin Island during World War II. Originally called the Beefsteak Dinner, the name was changed to honor the veterans of Makin Island. The dinner is held the First Saturday each November. The Makin Dinner has a fixed menu which is prepared by members of the 69th Regiment Veterans Association.
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Unit Day-March 17th - Tradition dictates that the first official parade on March 17th, St. Patrick's Day in New York City was held in 1766 by Irishmen in military units probably units which trace their history (e.g., 6th Regiment, 9th Regiment) to the 69th Regiment. The parade was organized by military units until the war of 1812. Then Irish fraternal and beneficial societies took over the duties of hosting and sponsoring the event. By 1851, the groups had banded together, nominating a Grand Marshall and increasing the size of the parade. This was when the 69th Regiment became the military escort and the Ancient Order of Hibernians became the official sponsor of the parade. In war and peacetime since then the 69th has been the first unit to march in the parade. The 69th celebrates March 17 as its unit day and marches to honor its great history.
The Garry Owen is the Regimental March since prior to the Civil War although it was never adopted officially. The song was written around 1770-1780 and is referred as being played as the Regiment marched in many of the histories of the 69th Regiment. The song was later adopted by the 7th U.S. Cavalry (Custer).
Calvary Cemetery 69th Veterans' Corps visits the graves of Unit members each May at Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York. Many unit members who died during the Civil War and World War I are buried there.
"Fighting 69th" The nickname "Fighting Sixth Ninth" was given to the unit by General Robert E. Lee, Commander, Army of Northern Virginia, CSA at Fredericksburg (Mayre's Heights)
The Logan - Duffy Trophy Rifle Match - The relationship between the 101st Infantry and the 69th Infantry of the Army National Guard, and the origins of the LOGAN - DUFFY Rifle Match, began over a century ago, during the Civil War.
In July 1861, Colonel Michael Corcoran of the 69th Infantry, New York State Militia, rode out of Fort Corcoran, Arlington, Virginia, to visit neighboring Fort Cass. While there he paid his respects to Colonel Thomas Cass of the 9th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. The Fighting 69th of New York had met the Fighting Irish of Boston, and from this meeting was begun a regimental friendship that has endured for over 140 years.
During the 75th anniversary celebration of the founding of the 101st Infantry, Massachusetts National Guard (the descendent unit of the 9th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry) in June 1936, Colonel Francis V. Logan, the Commanding Officer of the 101st suggested to Colonel Alexander E. Anderson, Commanding Officer of the 165th Infantry (69th New York), New York National Guard that a regimental rifle team be formed by each organization for annual competition. The purpose of the annual match was to encourage competitive marksmanship with the rifle, the principal weapon of the Infantry, and to enhance and develop the spirit of camaraderie between the two military organizations of similar background and heritage.
General Edward L. Logan, World War I commander of the 101st and Colonel Anderson of the 165th joined in donating a silver bowl which was designated the LOGAN - DUFFY Trophy. The trophy is a silver bowl is of five gallon capacity in fine vintage design, beautifully mounted and executed by Reed and Barton Silversmiths of Taunton, Massachusetts. It has a matching silver tray. The trophy was named for The Commanding Officers of the two regiments during the Spanish - American War, General Lawrence J. Logan of the 9th Massachusetts and General Edward Dully of the 69th New York.
The ownership of the trophy is a joint proposition governed by a deed of trust drawn up by Colonel Francis V. Logan and Colonel Alexander E. Anderson in 1936 The deed of trust states in part that although the trophy is owned jointly by the two organizations, actual possession shall be retained by the organization winning the annual rifle match.
The first match for possession of the trophy was fired on 12 October 1936 at Camp Curtis Guild in Wakefield, Massachusetts. The match was won by the 101st. Since it had been agreed the site for the match would change each year, in 1937 the 101st traveled to Camp Smith, Peekskill, New York. That year the 69th emerged as the victor.
In the fall of 1940, both regiments were called to active duty. With the onset of World War II, annual competition was impossible. The 101st, having won the match in 1939, the last year of pre-war competition, retained the trophy in Boston during the war.
In 1958, General Edward F. Logan, Commander of the 101st and General William D. Lynch, Commander of the 165th (69th NY) reinstated the competition. On 11 October 1958, the first post-war match was fired at Camp Curtis Guild Massachusetts with the 101st returning the trophy to Boston. The match is fiercely competitive and has been an annual event ever 1958.
Length of Color-Staff - On the day before St. Patrick's Day, 1919, the commander of the American Expeditionary Force officially reviewed the 42nd (Rainbow) Division. The general hesitated before one of the regimental color guards, noting that the color-staff was one foot longer than regulations permitted. The reason for the discrepancy was quite clear, however - the units inordinate amount of battle streamers had somehow to be accommodated on the staff.
"What regiment is this?" queried the general.
"The 165th Infantry, Sir," responded the soldier.
"What regiment was it?" continued the chief.
"The 69th New York, Sir," came the proud reply.
"The 69th New York, I understand now." Thus did General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing acknowledge the reputation of "The Fighting 69th." Having originally gained its fame during the Civil War, the regiment gathered nine more battle furls during World War I. McCormick, Jack, The Fighting 69th, Irish-American Troops in World War I, Military Times, Mar-Apr 1984, pp. 22-28.